Vice President Kamala Harris met with several Black women activists Friday (July 16) inside of the White House, The Grio reports. The Black civil rights leaders were there to discuss voting rights after some were arrested the day before protesting inside of the Hart Senate Office Building.
Melanie Campbell, the President of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, LaTosha Brown co-founder of Black Voters Matter and Cora Masters Barry were among the voting rights activists in attendance. According to April Ryan, who was inside the meeting, the conversation was fruitful and even President Biden listened in for some time.
Ryan reported that “a staffer said the president was glad the women were there and that his second in command Harris took the lead.” Vice President Harris was engaged and listened to the women speak about what was taking place on the ground. She called the group “modern versions of” Ida B. Wells, Fannie Lou Hammer and other influential civil rights leaders.
“All Americans have the blessing and the benefits of standing on their shoulders,” she said. The purpose, from the beginning, has been to push lawmakers to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the For The People Act. Both bills have already passed in the House of Representatives, however getting enough “yays” in the Senate remains a challenge. The bills are largely in response to Republican efforts to restrict voting rights for residents in red states. Recently, President Biden and VP Harris have met with several Black leaders and Texas Democrats about the issue.
Harris has been tasked with leading the effort to combat voter suppression and her meeting with the Black leaders Friday may have given her a blueprint on how to move forward with her plans.
At the meeting, Brown — whose organization recently embarked on a freedom ride for voting rights — said “hope is turning into frustration.” She also mentioned that she and the other activists are “looking for something permanent,” referring to the legislation that has not been passed.
Masters Barry expressed her displeasure with having to protest over 50 years after the original Voting Rights Act was signed into law. “I am mad because I am 76 years old and I was out there fighting for their 1965 Voting Rights Act,” Masters Barry said. “We got it and here I am. I just don’t understand why we are here.”
Watch a clip from the meeting below: